This is the thirteenth week after Penny died.
Yesterday, the 12th, was bad-ish at 4pm. I was able to cope by digging out the Anglican rosary and in a nice, liesurely fashion, praying a series of blessings and thank-yous for Penny. That turned the hollowness away, for a while.
Today, though... I knew at 4pm, and ruthlessly said, "I have to finish this set of edits before they bring back the test system so I will have something to ZZZzzzzzz..." Yeah, narcolepsy, 15 minutes of nothing inserted where I would otherwise have begun to feel at the hollow, dry-socket empty spot around my heart.
6:30 came around, and it was time to head for dinner before going to church. I probably should have known I was going to have trouble when I was walking to the car and started howling, because it was time for us to ... right. Me to go. But no pho this time. Maybe stop at Sushi or at the teriyaki place the cops eat at?
Sushi Town was full. At 6:40, there was no empty spot anywhere, and I didn't want to hang around forever, so I went next door to Jin Wah.
They had a special on Asparagus Beef. I love Asparagus Beef. I introduced Penny to it at a place in Berkeley back in 1979. We figured out how to make it ourselves.
So, I get a table for one. The place is mostly empty. Five minutes after I sit, water and tea arrive, and I've finished looking at the menu and finished talking to my mom on the phone, arranging to go down for Easter Sunday dinner. Don't really want to - hate the drive - but I need to see my family and this will likely be the only chance to do so for a few weeks.
And five minutes after that, a full ten minutes since I was seated, the waiter still hasn't approached me, and I'm getting increasingly upset. Since I asked for a table for one, and he brought me there himself, he knows I'm not waiting for anyone else. Four other parties have been seated, and orders taken, since I arrived. Finally I get fed up, and walk up to the front desk and ask, "Is it possible for me to speak with a waiter, or are there any on tonight? I've been waiting for about ten minutes now and I'd like to order."
They act like they've been caught with their pants around their ankles behind the counter, and one of them takes my order, which is delivered, as I thought, within 6 minutes. Asparagus Beef is a FAST dish, especially when the ingredients are easily made ahead and assembled quickly in a giant superheated wok.
It was perfect, of course. I ate half, got a box with no effort (this time the waiter didn't pretend not to see my hand signals and waves for attention) and took the rest to eat after the service.
I got there to find that the 7:30 start-time had been spontaneously changed - instead, we had a 7:15 light meal of mediterranean foods (darnit, I could've not bothered with stopping for dinner) and a foot-washing service with intermittent readings; the liturgy would be at 7:45 in the sanctuary. I got tapped to help usher (I was wearing my bright, bright rainbow colored tie-died russian-made Henley, real formal that :P) ... I went inside, grabbed a fresh date, and found that Susanne Caerthou (RN, Music Thanatologist) was playing harp. Every plink of that harp picked loose some scab or other on my soul, and I went out on the deck (not visible with the blinds drawn) apologizing to the person in front of the deck door that the room was too hot (it was). It was raining enough to wash my face off, and I gathered myself enough to escape from the room, feet unwashed. This is because with that many people present, I refuse to go off and start blubbing out loud, which would have happened.
The church was very very busy. The Journey Koinonea (sic?) people use the church on Maundy Thursday for a completely NOT in keeping 'passover feast' where they collapse the entirety of Lent and everything up to Easter into one swell pot-luck party, but without the shouting out, really loud music and singing, and enthusiastic liturgical dance that marred the first two years we gave them the use of our Fellowship Hall for their big church meeting. Meanwhile, the AA group that meets Thursday nights is very cranky downstairs. One of the people in that meeting left in a powerful sulk partway through, as we were processing in, and was followed by another. He flung some sort of a snarkastic remark either at me or at the other guy, I couldn't tell which. I had been watching him, wondering if he needed help, but he seemed in control of himself (though he may have been drunk, which would have been an issue at the meeting, I guess.)
Anyway. I stayed out in the narthex for most of the service part of the service, taking advantage of the fact that when I'm serving others, I stay in better control of myself. The sermon started out with some exquisitely chosen line by our youngest priest, something on the order of "Have you ever found yourself saying goodbye to someone you love, knowing you'll never see them again," and I wanted to hit him. Hard. But it wasn't really what he was getting at, of course; he was trying to get into the 'Jesus talking to his disciples as a mentor' thing.
The eucharist was one of the more beautiful and strenuous ones. We took up the collection, and the entire (76 person) congregtion gathered around the INSIDE of the Altar Rail. St. Barts has a very unusual configuration - the altar is directly under the steepled roof at the center of the 'Cross' formed by sanctuary and transepts. It's a huge, textured cement block. It's directly under a huge, pounded, wrought-iron cross suspended in the air as though it were weightless. The sun comes in around the cupola of the steeple and lights up the cross, in the day, and at night, spotlights keep it lit.
Anyway. Inside the altar rail. All of us, with the choir around the outside because they didn't fit, quite. They used a very old (?) Athanasian (?) liturgy that's been updated only very slightly, and we had the bread and wine, then we said the prayer of thanksgiving for the eucharist, then we all sang again, a plainsong piece (again, too tired to remember the name, but it's plainchant and Eastery and you might know it on hearing it. I was able to sing it without trouble (though my throat hurts a bit now.)
Then, silence, they remove the remaining consecrated bread from the altar to a small table. Then people strip the altar. Some of us are moved by the Spirit to help take stuff away as needed - my fellow usher didn't know that the black iron candlesticks as tall as he is, also WEIGH almost as much as he does. They are hefty, wrought iron, not thin pounded-out or rolled-out to get effect of mass.
Which is why I took the kneeling pillows instead.
I was grabbed by Lynn Chapman afterwards. She'd wanted to talk to me for weeks and weeks after church, so I bit the bullet and talked. Her daughter had died, some years ago, of a bone cancer that went away and then came back, but she had, as she said, a year or so to become accustomed to the idea. Susanne came in as well, to clear up her stuff and get her harp, and hadn't heard that Penny had died. Susanne had been in a car accident, was unhurt but her car was totalled and she had no money for a new one. Anyway.
I dumped the story on both of them. Susanne is going to play for Penny - something she sometimes does as a form of prayer. She feels that since God is not limited in time, that He will honor this, and maybe Penny will get to hear it as well. I hope so. She really liked Susanne's music, but we didn't want to have the 'lulled off' thing at the time.
My earlier post said I was on guard. Yeah, I was doing the 'security' thing. One of the newer members, who I didn't remember meeting but whom I had seen at church, came in and wandered towards the prayer area, and I asked him who he was, and if he wanted to go inside to pray or to wait in the library and I would let him know when his shift came.
Watched "What Dreams May Come" and wished they had chosen another actor. Robin Williams did not pull off 'young' in this movie. His face is just too prune-leathered.
This is a movie about death, sort of. In some respects, it's like a unitarian-universalist version of Touched By An Angel only without actual angels as such, only the 'more experienced, more advanced' dead people that might've known you in life.
I liked some of what they said about the nature of heaven, but there was a huge amount of wishy-washy bullshite, and a conspicuous and annoying absence of God. Nor do I believe in reincarnation, at least, not casual reincarnation; therefore, it threw off my suspension of disbelief. However, it was, indeed, a thoroughly gorgeous movie. The music was good but not impressive, really.